The Cast of Downton Abbey Reviews Maggie Smith’s Most Iconic Moments | Vanity Fair

published on July 2, 2020

– We were lucky enough
to be part of this huge

worldwide succe – success? Success


Good times

– I'm Laura Carmichael

– I'm Allen Leech

– And I'm Michelle Dockery

– And today,

we are reviewing some of
Maggie Smith's very best lines

[upbeat music]

– Your quarrel is with
my daughter, Rosamind,

not me

So put that in your pipe and smoke it

– That's a classic,

Maggie line

– It's like things that
you read on the page

that you wouldn't think
would be that funny

but when she does it, it's hilarious

– They're all checked to
make sure the lines are also

relevant to the time period

– It's a zinger

– It's a zinger

– Every time

[upbeat music]

– Edith dear, you're a woman with a brain

and reasonable ability


Stop whining and find something to do

– It's the way that she pauses as well

when she goes, "Brain,

"and reasonable abilities"
[cast laughs]

Like shes's trying to find a
compliment in there somewhere

– How did you not, like
crack up every time?

– I mean, I did I think

There's one where we're
trying out the telephone

where you can see me laughing

But they thought that
Edith might find it funny

so it was okay

But, yeah, it was really me corpsing

Because they are quite
serious a lot of the time

it takes the smallest
facial movement to know

that we've lost it, you know?

So, if there's a moment where

I can see Michelle in
Mary's face, you know?

– Or, I find it's the intakes of breathe

Especially the scene where you're like,

because you're just trying to stop,

and then the minute
someone else hears that

they're gone
– Yeah

– [Interviewer] Does Maggie ever break?

– Yes

– She does actually
– She does

– But she's normally the
one who makes us break

– [Michelle] Yeah, always

[upbeat music]

– I could ask Edith, she might be free

– Oh, I hope so, I'm a feeble substitute

for the entire Crawley family

– Yes, but you're better than nothing

– How warming you make that sound

– Oh, they're brilliant

I mean, obviously they're peers,

have worked together, I think,

a couple of times haven't they?

– Both Dames

– I mean, it's a joy to watch
those two battle as well

It started like that, and then suddenly,

Isobel Crawley started, almost,

coming in to challenge her on purpose

– But, you can see how they are
found of each other as well

They've become strange besties

in the world of Downton

– I think she gives as good as she gets

– [Allen] Yeah, she does
– [Laura] Totally

[upbeat music]

– That's very kind ladies

But you see, I don't
approve of these costumes

I see them as the uniform of oppression,

and I should be
uncomfortable wearing them

– You quite finished?

– I have

– Good

[cast laughs]

– I mean, that was one of
my first scenes with her,

where I had dialogue with her

And I was genuinely terrified
going into that room

– She did this really cheeky thing to me

on one of our first days, so
really early on in filming

And the scene was about to start

but the director said,
"Could you just do a bit

"of ad libbing at the top so

"it looks like we're joining
you mid conversation?"

And they went, "Action,"
and she said, "Pardon?"

[Allen laughs]

– So, I had to be there with the line and,

I mean, it was so naughty

It really made us laugh

– You remember what you came up with?

– No, I think I just froze

And then, thankfully, a
footman entered with a tray

You know

[upbeat music]

– Certainly not

Would you think I might have a drink?

Oh, I'm so sorry, I
thought you were a waiter

[cast laughs]

– Brilliant

I love that one

– It's so good
– So good

– The whole thing in that scene was that,

he didn't have his tails on, wasn't it?

– [Michelle] Yes
– He was just in a tux jacket

– Yes
– So funny

Because she does it to her son

– They weren't wearing tails

and she thought it was very wild

– Uncouth
– Uncouth, yeah

[upbeat music]

– I won't sleep a wink

– Tonight or tomorrow?

– Civil vulgarity is
no substitute for wit

– Well, you started it

– Oh, Sybil
– It's so weird seeing that

– Little Sybil
– That's a great line

– It's amazing how young we all look

– Yeah, that's right

And the hair Which goes through many–

– Many different phases

– Another great Maggie line?

– Yeah, they're great

– I think there's been some moments

where we give it back
a little, isn't there?

– Yeah

– But Sybil was the rebel, you know?

So, I think that was
very much her character,

that she would, you know,
always give it back

– We all laugh quite
openly with and at granny

You know, even in the film when we say,

"You just need to take off
your hat to stay for dinner"

And she says, "You talk
as if that were easy"

And, you know, we all have a good laugh

– We all know what she's like

as you do your own grandparents

You're like, "Oh, here she goes"

So, I think, they're all a
bit like that with Violet

[upbeat music]

– Izzy doesn't drive

So, I told her I can do it

– What?

– I said I could drive the tractor

– Edith, you are a lady,
not Toad of Toad Hall

[cast laughs]

– Well, I'm doing it

– In "Wind in the Willows,"
the character Toad,

was this sort of over the top

frog, toad
– Toad

And, he's Toad of Toad Hall,

he's a sort of posh toad who,
at one point in the books,

takes up driving
– And drives very erratically

– He's very erratic and goes, poop, poop,

and crashes the car a lot

– That's the reference

– That's what she was
accusing Edith of being

– Its just that look as well,

that Maggie gives as the Dowager Countess

It's so withering

[upbeat music]

– You are quite wonderful

the way you see room for
improvement wherever you look

I never knew such reforming zeal

– I take that as a compliment

– I must have said it wrong

[cast laughs]

– I mean, Mary doesn't really
laugh and smile all that much,

especially in those days

– Although, that day was hilarious

Do you remember that day?
– It was very funny

The flower show

– There was all of these
things being judged

Sort of flowers and what
was the biggest vegetable

and things

And there was some–
– Jam


– Oh

– Oh, yes

That got all sweaty

And I said, "Isn't it funny
how they get all shiny?"

And, Penelope said,

"Yes darling, it's cause they're nervous,

"they know they're being judged"

[cast laughs]

– Lots of silly things that day

– We were very mean to each other

and I said something to you like–

– About my hat

– Something about, "Those
shoes and that hat?"

Or something "That dress and that hat?"

I mean, we were vicious to each other

in that first series


[upbeat music]

– There's no logic in it

– Oh, no, if I were to search for logic,

I should not look for it
among the English upper class

– Back then I think we
did a lot more of the

crossing the room and having conversations

with more people

And, I hadn't really been upstairs,

I was still kind of getting my bearings

In any of these scenes
I was still obviously,

just delighted to be still
in the show with these guys

– I like it when she
does those lines though

where she finds it funny
– Yeah

– Yeah

– And she makes herself laugh

[upbeat music]

– And another thing I mean,

Edith isn't getting any younger,

I mean, perhaps she isn't
cut out for domestic life

[Laura laughs]

– Oh, that's funny

– Your hair looked great in that one

– I think that's a–
– A wave expert

– Julio, a hairdresser from Argentina

who spoke hardly any English,

but he'd do fantastic,

Marcel wave
– Marcel wave

– And they used to always say,
you know, "Julio, it's time"

And he'd be like, "Yes, I know"

– Yes, I know
– Yes, I know

– But, then he would just continue,

he wouldn't care He's
be like, "Yes I know"

– That was very funny

I loved doing that because

the relationship with Edith and Violet,

she sort of pulled her
through a lot of that time

when she was a bit depressed

But, even when she was being encouraging

it still came out as an insult

– That niggle that the Dowager does

is often to try and push
someone on to try something

It's almost encouragement,
but in a very backhanded way

[upbeat music]

– Granny, what do you think?

– Oh, it is you

I though it was a man
wearing your clothes

– It's funny because, the year before

I cut my own hair into a bob

hoping that Julian would
just let me have my own hair,

and you know, Mary have
a bob, and he said,

"Oh, no, no, it's too soon"

So then, I had to have a
wig to make it look longer

And then, eventually, I grew
my hair, and then he said,

"Now we're ready for the bob"

And I love it that in the
film it kind of follows suit,

so everybody's getting bobs, you know?

– Thanks for watching

– Hope you enjoyed it

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